Ed. note: This is part 1 of a 3 part series on Ford GT40s.
Back in the hazy days of my high school career, news bits from Ford’s dominance of the ’66 LeMans 24 Hour race trickled through the car klatch of friends and pseudo auto enthusiasts with which I hung out. A new really cool looking car appeared. It even bore an American name plate. Created by Ford, of all possible car companies, who everyone knew made only lurching wheeled boxes filled with arms, legs, lawn chairs, groceries, dog hair and absolutely no road aggression. Engineer a car for international road racing circuits and win? No way.
Looking back at history of Ford’s GT 40, we learn this supercar emerged from Henry Ford II’s rage over Ferrari’s hot then cold desire to become a Ford takeover target. Engineered and English built in collaboration with Lotus and Lola, through a not entirely smooth process, seeing its first race in 1964, the Ford powered world beater evolved through several iterations, consuming Ford’s initial design team. The GT 40 reached maturity under guidance from Carroll Shelby, taking places 1, 2 and 3 at 1966’s LeMans 24 Hours, booting Ferrari from their preeminent station in LeMans’ winner circle. Take that, Enzo!
While GT40’s LeMans dominance lasted a short time, its swagger continued and does so today. Ford gave up Ford GT 40 production. Transferring trademark and construction rights through Safir GT40 Spares, the official GT40/R found its current licensed home for both street and track versions at Superformance Distribution LLC, of Irvine, California. Superformance production picked up at a level of authenticity and precision permitting contemporary GT’s to trace heritage to the very first chassis. It doesn’t matter when or where you see a Ford GT 40. It’s cool. Vintage race events bring out the very best in Ford GT ancestry, on track and off. The earliest new generation GT40 adopter bears the name Olthoff Racing.
From Olthoff Racing’s website, “In December 2005, Dennis Olthoff tested the first production car in South Africa. Various upgrades and changes followed before full production started in February 2006. From 2006 to 2009, Superformance produced 150 street cars (80 of which Olthoff Racing finished). Olthoff Racing upgraded #002 – the first production car — to ‘R’ specifications.” Notice the driver position; its left hand drive. Shown here, Dennis’ personal race car, Superformance MK2, houses a 427 CID Windsor engine delivering power through a ZF transaxle. Dennis tells me he’s in process of replacing the drive train with a 427 FE and T-44 transaxle. Keep Dennis’ Olthoff Racing name in mind. Our next Ford GT 40 articles exclusively feature Olthoff Racing dressed out and race prepared cars.
See you at the track.
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